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Don’t Blink – You’ll Miss It

If horse racing alone isn’t extreme enough for you, come to Canterbury Park this weekend for Extreme Racing Day, featuring ostrich and camel races in addition to thoroughbred and quarter horse races.

To add to the fun, Canterbury will host a 110-yard quarter horse stakes race (last year’s edition pictured above). Though not an official distance, the hundred (or so) yard dash is becoming increasingly popular at tracks across the country, and its distance makes it a novelty event. If the classic quarter horse distance is a quarter of a mile (440 yards), this race is a quarter of that distance… you can do the math. It’s short.

For those of you who complain that quarter horse races are over at the break, don’t let this race scare you off. The hundred yard dash tends to attract older, talented horses who have significant gate experience. The start is still a factor, but it is more about the speed with which a horse can leave the gate rather than the trouble it might encounter from other horses.

The race may be a recent development, but some horses have already won the event multiple times. On July 15th, Fort Erie hosted the $20,000 Blink of an Eye Stakes. Last year, the race was won by Slick Little Beduino (Slick Little Beduino was the runner-up in this race at Canterbury in both 2009 and 2010), who returned this year to defend his title and won by an impossible length and a quarter. He finished in 7.010 and earned a 94 speed index for his effort. Slick Little Beduino is a seven-year-old Kansas-bred gelding who shipped in from Remington Park; he is owned and trained by Alvin Turner and was ridden by Cody McDaniel.

At Zia Park last fall, a 100-yard allowance was split into two divisions, each with a purse of over $40,000. The first leg was won by eight-year-old Dueling Juan in 6.410; the second leg by seven-year-old Anywhere Chic in 6.430.

This spring at Sam Houston, the $15,000 Texas Twister Stakes was split into three divisions. A five-year-old mare, CC Miss Yin You, won the first leg in 6.854, and Little Eye Opener earned the victory in the second division with a time of 6.830. Times continued to speed up throughout the night as The Hot List won the final division in 6.736.

Part of the fun of watching a hundred yard dash is the knowledge that you could be witnessing history in the making. Many tracks do not have a long history of these races, and the purses attract very talented horses. The result: new track records.

In the third division of the Texas Twister, The Hot List’s time of 6.736 was a new track record, defeating a previous track record of 6.807 that had stood since 2008, when it was set by XO Kate. Yasmine Fierro trains the four-year-old son of Streakin La Jolla, owned by Eleazar Martinez and ridden by leading jockey Luis Vivanco.

Dueling Juan broke Zia’s 100-yard track record with his victory in 6.410 when he made his 56th lifetime start in the allowance last November for owners A & F Racing, trainer Harvey Baeza and jockey Freddie Martinez.

To put this in perspective, a football field is 120 yards, end zone to end zone. The longest touchdown run in NFL history was made by Antonio Cromartie of the San Diego Chargers on November 4th, 2007. Cromartie caught a missed field goal attempt inches from the line and scored a 109-yard rushing touchdown. (Let’s ignore that fact that our Vikings’ defense made this record possible.) Cromartie had a nearly straight shot to run down the entire field in a distance that these quarter horses can cover in just over 6 seconds. His time, at full speed? Roughly 14 seconds.

Come watch our equine athletes run the same distance on Saturday, but blink and you’ll miss a revolution.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography